Seeds of Promise: Nourishing Porter County in a Creative, New Way

Through thoughtful and intentional philanthropy, the Porter County Community Foundation (PCCF) has been collaborating with donors and nonprofit organizations to create a brighter future for our community for over 28 years. Porter County is fortunate to have individuals fueled by generosity with an interest in investing in causes closest to them. There is no better example of this than the unassuming retired accountant and Porter County resident, Bill Jewell.

Bill was two months shy of turning 100 years old when he passed away and bequeathed $12.5 million to PCCF, the largest gift in the Foundation’s history.

Bill left instructions in his will regarding how PCCF should distribute the funds. He had special relationships with two Porter County nonprofit organizations that he wished to support: the United Way and the Salvation Army. Through Bill’s bequest, the Ruth B. Jewell Fund for the United Way, honoring his mother, and the William H. Jewell Fund for the Salvation Army, honoring his father, were established.

An Indiana University Kelley School of Business graduate, Bill’s desire was to enable Porter County students to have this same educational opportunity. His gift also created an endowed fund for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in the Kelley School of Business called the Harriett Baxter Scholarship Fund, honoring his grandmother.

Anchored by Bill’s belief in investing in Porter County’s future and furthering education, the fourth endowed fund provided post-secondary funding for students starting at a very young age. This source of funds provided PCCF, in partnership with First Things First Porter County, the opportunity to launch Seeds of Promise, a fund for future education.

Beginning January 1, 2023, Seeds of Promise sets aside $100 for every baby born to a Porter County resident, as a head start toward their education beyond high school. The $100 gift serves as seed money for a 529 college savings account. The Seeds of Promise funds are held in an account administered by PCCF until a college choice direct 529 savings account is opened on behalf of the child. The $100 seed money is then gifted into the child’s account.  

This modest sum carries immense potential. Studies from Washington University show children with even small savings accounts are significantly more likely to pursue higher education; these children are three times more likely to enroll in college and more than four times more likely to graduate from college than those with no savings account. Additionally, when a mother is presented with this opportunity for her baby, symptoms of maternal depression decrease.

The program is free for anyone to sign up and only takes a few minutes to do so. In just over a year, Seeds of Promise has already touched the lives of hundreds of Porter County families.

The creation of Seeds of Promise is a testament to PCCF’s commitment to our community and embodies the Foundation’s guiding principle of strengthening the community through lasting generosity and leadership.

Since 1996, PCCF has partnered with community members to establish endowed funds that provide financial resources to nonprofits and student scholarships. Endowments are powerful tools for our community as they enable long-term growth and the sustainability to provide support to our community forever.

While many community members have deep roots with nonprofit organizations and want to create funds to ensure their long-term sustainability, there are community members that seek counsel from the PCCF board and staff about community needs. PCCF can work with anyone to help curate unique giving opportunities based on an individual’s specific interests, the needs of the community, or a mix of both.

To learn more about the Porter County Community Foundation or Seeds of Promise, please visit PCCF.gives. To enroll your baby in Seeds of Promise, go to FirstThingsPC.org/Savings and complete the enrollment form.

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